ASTRONOMIQUE: LP REVIEW - 'SHARP DIVIDE'
EP Release Date: 9th June 2018
Genre: Space Wave/Synth-Pop/Dark wave/Space Pop/Dance/ Dream Pop/Dark Disco/Alternative/Electro-Pop/New Wave/Post Punk/Disco
Members: Logan Andra Fongemie, Sean Hogan, Mitch Billings, Preston Saari
Please let me explain why it appears that I can’t put my finger on the genre of this band, Astronomique. As you will see above, there are 12 separate genre descriptions. These are all the tags that the band, themselves, use on Soundcloud. The fact is, both the band and I know that all of these genre descriptions are true and accurate. Not allowed to have more than one or two simple genre descriptions? SAYS WHO?! If you are all of these sounds and genres, then be proud! Tell people what they can experience at your show, or when listening to your brand new LP, Sharp Divide, so that they know how broad your talent is.
That’s how Astronomique roll - honest, heartfelt, and carefree when it comes to the usual restraints of descriptions and genres in which we all get pigeonholed by others. Rather, why not let the audience, the fan, or the new person discovering your music subjectively decide how they feel about your music, and how they would describe you. Leave it up to the universe and the stars.
In the words of the late great Stephen Hawking (R.I.P. 2018), "Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious." Astronomique exemplify the sentiment of what Hawking was saying in this famous quote.
The band name is taken from a French picture book, named Lunette Astronomique. It's translated meaning being:
Lunette – Glasses
Astronomique – Astronomical
Combined translation: Astronomical Telescope
You would only use an astronomical telescope to look at the stars (right?), not down at your feet (right?)... To try and make sense of what you are seeing (right?)... And to wonder what makes the universe exist (right?)... Being curious is what leads a band to having 12 genre tags on their Soundcloud page. Who is out there? What language would they speak or hear when they visit our planet (or the band’s Soundcloud page)? What dialect will they individually understand when I’m communicating with them?
The additional irony (if you care to "be curious," as Mr Hawking encouraged) is that just as a telescope can peer out into the universe, so too can a telescopic view of love, relationships, life, and existence be peered at. Astronomique sing about looking as deeply and as far within yourself and your human emotions as you would if you were peering out into space through a telescope. The difference is that they do it in the catchiest, hippest, sexiest, most 80’s disco/New Wave/post punk/Space-Wave way possible, so that you’re completely partying while surmising Logan’s introspection. I’d say that the band would make Mr. Hawking smile pleasantly with their level of "clever" curiosity and intelligence.
Now I’m not going to ruin anything, or go against the band’s own description of themselves and their sound. However, I am going to hone in a little more on what I heard when listening to Sharp Divide. Yes, I heard the "space-age electro psych-pop" that is outlined in Astronomique's bio. Yes, I heard the "organic, funky, element and fuzzed out guitars" plus the "hypnotic vocals" too. But I heard quite a bit more that isn’t outlined in their bio, and that isn’t included in all of the band's press reviews I've read so far. And let me get this straight... I agree with all that I have read from both the band’s own description and the praises being sung from all quarters of the musical press. But...
What I heard was simple, and beautiful. What I heard was a well-oiled unit who know how each other play, and instinctively and instrumentally orbit one another’s performance to give it exactly the precise amount of light and shade (hopefully you appreciate the lunar metaphor’s there?!).
Let me explain by focusing on the genre "feel" I got while listening to the following three tracks from Sharp Divide:
'Losing Our Control' (track 4):
A love song, using the stars as a metaphor for the unknown. Revolving around two entities being in the same gravitation pull, which openly speaks of Logan Fongemie seeing a love interest soon after a tryst. They see each other again, and from first glance, they know they are ‘losing their control’ towards each other. Awww. Nice.
This whole track opens with a crazy and captivating mix of both Daft Punk and Visage (Fade to grey) in sound, phrasing, and structure. In short, super cool and grooving from the get-go. This is a classic song about the question: "What’s the breaking strain of sexual tension?" "Who will snap first?"
I have to admit that 4 bars in, I couldn’t stop myself from immediately wanting to view a clip of this song's video to actually SEE if the band they looked the way they sound. And in fact, they do! I highly recommend viewing the music video for 'Losing Our Control.' Even if only for the telescope lens effect on the camera, which subliminally reminds you of the band's roots and name. But considering the message in the lyrics of this song, I thought the humor in Logan's phallic serpent-like mic stand was a great visual device too! Don’t forget that she's deciding upon relinquishing to the temptation of her male friend's charms.
So, I ask you... Name the genre of this track? Correct! That’s why the band has total poetic license to move genre with each track!!
'Sharp Divide' (track 5/title track):
I was still watching Astronomique's YouTube channel at this time. After watching 'Losing Our Control,' something very prophetic happened. A pre-roll advertisement for Cadbury chocolate appeared, and the strap line for the ad was, "It all starts when you just add marvellous." Perfect set-up for Astronomique's next song. Thanks Cadbury!
More a David Lynch-ish, lounge room, rainy day confession in sound, but really simple. I’m talking like the same sort of totally planned "simple" that ACDC perfected, and no other band could replicate. Simple so that each instrument and vocal melody has its own clear space to perform without treading on each other. Ethereal. Lyrically, the subject matter for this song is almost the antithesis of the previous dreamy "I see you and we both want each other" sentiment. 'Sharp Divide' outlines that things haven’t gone too well, or as planned. Oh well, that’s obviously what the universe decided...
Back to my point above, though. Astronomique possess ALL of the genre traits outlined in their Soundcloud tags, and ALL of the descriptions lauded upon them by others in their music press. But to me, they have a very clever and planned mystique that is above all of the other descriptions. They have a purposeful hypnotic "two person private confessional" vibe with a catchy song structure that, irrespective of your perspective, is 100% danceable. They obviously "just added marvellous" too!
'Bleed Me' (track 8)
Of all tracks on Sharp Divide, this one has the most Euro-funk/disco/New Wave/Space Wave genre feel to it. ‘Bleed Me’ has radio high rotation written all over it. It’s the track a young couple want to hear (on a loop) at the end of the night after they’ve absconded to a booth in the dark back corner of the underground club they’re in together...when their friends think they’ve already gone home. It's a really clear demonstration of the tight relationship between the band's rhythm section too. Solid drumming with bass licks and chords that fill a room with a vibe that screams "Tequila shots and dancing!" That is, if you’re not already engaged in the booth at the back of the room.
Listening to ‘Bleed Me’ made me wish I was at the LP launch Saturday night at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis with my friends from Tinderbox Music, getting into the music and forgetting my age, or who’s watching. It would have been fun.
Excellent live sound and feel with passionate lyrics that are matched with a haunting and angelic voice. That’s how I would describe Astronomique. If you don’t stream this LP or go and see the band live, you should go out and buy a cat for companionship. So you have someone to share your loneliness with!
-The Music Producer
Tracks On LP:
one FOREFATHERS (3:46)
two SIDE OF YOUR MIND (3:07)
three WE DISAPPEAR (3:06)
four LOSING OUR CONTROL (3:38)
five SHARP DIVIDE (3:16)
six SMOKE (4:09)
seven UNSPOKEN (3:44)
eight BLEED ME (3:08)
nine HARDLY DELIBERATE (3:52)
ten HEADING NOWHERE (3:47)
RECORDED and MIXED by Knol Tate
MASTERED by Mystery Room Mastering
MIMIC FORMS (Single) Self Released 2017
ASTRONOMIQUE (EP) Self Released 2016
*CMJ top 200 for 4 weeks, peaking at #130
COLLIDE (Single) Self Released 2014
BURNING STARS FADE (EP) Self Released 2014
*CMJ RPM top 40 for 3 weeks, peaking at #34